Ricky Miller enhanced his reputation as the National League’s leading marksman after his double sunk play-off chasing rivals Gateshead at Crabble on Saturday.
The striker took his tally to 34 after a goal in each half, including a sublime free-kick, as Dover ended Gateshead’s 10-game unbeaten run in front of crowd of 2,507 on the second Family Day of the season.
The clean sheet, Dover’s third in four games, also meant it was the first time Gateshead had failed to score in 15 games.
The three-points see boss Chris Kinnear’s side move up two places to sixth, two points behind Aldershot, but with a game in hand.
Dover goalkeeper Mitch Walker made the first save of the match, comfortably catching Jordan Burrow’s header in the seventh minute before doing the same to Liam Hogan’s looping effort a couple of minutes later.
Walker’s counterpart, James Montgomery, comfortably dealt with a couple of probing crosses, including one from Moses Emmanuel which just failed to find an outstretched Ricky Modeste.
But there was nothing he could do to prevent Miller from opening the scoring with a stunning free-kick in the 33rd minute.
The striker was brought down by Hogan 25 yards out and he picked himself before unleashing an unstoppable curling effort into the top corner of Montgomery’s goal.
Miller was at it again soon after, seeing a volley go well over before Montgomery denied him in a one-on-one.
The Heed responded with Mitch Brundle heading over Jamal Fyfield’s cross before Walker produced a great save to deny Paddy McLaughlin a certain goal on the stroke of half-time.
McLaughlin raced on to Danny Johnson’s cross only to see Walker save his effort from point blank range.
Montgomery was the first of the goalkeepers in action in the second half, saving Emmanuel’s deflected effort seconds after the restart.
Joe Healy’s pass then set Emmanuel free only for him to drag his effort wide.
Healy was next to try his luck, seeing his shot saved by Montgomery following good lead up work involving Tyrone Sterling, Miller, Modeste and Emmanuel.
Dover continued to press and Emmanuel was again the player involved seeing his effort beat Montgomery and go just wide.
Emmanuel then played in Miller, whose shot cannoned into the post and bounced clear.
The visitors released the pressure briefly with Manny Smith heading Brundle’s free-kick wide.
Back at the other end, another Miller free-kick brought a flying save out of Montgomery before the keeper raced off his line to clear from Modeste.
The pressure finally told in the 78th minute when Miller made it 2-0 after he cut inside and drilled a low shot past Montgomery at his near post.
Montgomery palmed away another Miller effort three minutes later.
Gateshead’s leading scorer Johnson missed a great chance to reduce the deficit a minute from time, but fired well over Walker’s bar from six yards.
Time was almost up, but Miller was still proving a menace and it took another Montgomery save to deny him a hat-trick.
Earlier, Kinnear made one enforced change to his starting side following the defeat at Tranmere on Tuesday, with Sam Magri replacing the injured James Hurst.
Bondz N’Gala also returned to the match day squad after missing the past three games for personal reasons.
Dover: Walker, Fazakerly (Kinnear 55mins), Orlu Grimes, Essam, Sterling, Healy (Pinnock 83mins), Magri, Modeste, Miller, Emmanuel (Lafayette 70mins).
Subs not used: N’Gala, Thomas
Gateshead: Montgomery, G. Smith (Bolton 71mins), M. Smith, Hogan, Fyfield, Brundle, Johnson, Burrow, Mafuta (White 80mins), McLaughlin, Green (Hannant 58mins).
Subs not used: Hanford, O’Donnell
|1st April 2017||3:00 pm||National League||2016-2017||90'|
|Crabble Athletic Ground|